Thursday, October 6, 2011

Damned: A Read to Die For

Known for writing some of the raunchiest and most disturbing stories, Chuck Palaniuk has turned his attention to the afterlife with his upcoming novel Damned, to be released by Doubleday on October 18th. In an Are You There God? It's Me Margaret. mock up (penned to Satan instead), the story chronicles 13 year old Madison's experience as she begins her new life in Hell after allegedly overdosing on marijuana.

We first find Madison in a grungy cell block in the underworld, where she meets a group resembling an eternally damned version of The Breakfast Club. The socially awkward, unattractive girl among the brain, the jock, the rebel, and the prom queen, Madison joins the group in a trek past the "greasy, flaky Dandruff Desert" near the "Great Plains of Broken Glass" to Hell's processing center. There, Madison applies for an appeal on her condemnation and finds employment in one of only two professions in Hell: starring in internet porn or telemarketing. Choosing the latter, she joins the underworld's workforce in earning candy bars and other treats to pay off her debt and gain salvation.

Like many of Palahniuk's novels, Damned is chock full of random, slightly useful information. Did you know, for instance, that if you honk your car horn more than 500 times in your life, you're automatically condemned to Hell? There's a similar rule for discarded cigarette butts too, apparently, and passing gas in crowded elevators. And before you die, make sure you're wearing a nice sturdy pair of shoes, because it is Hell after all; it's hot! Cheap shoes will melt and you'll spend an eternity walking around on broken glass. These are just a couple of the things Madison learns while acclimating to quotidian life in the underworld.

While alive, Madison was the daughter of ex-communist, ex-hippy movie star parents and grew up in the lap of luxury. In Hell, though, Madison must rely on her new acquaintances while coming to terms with her former life, her death and her condemnation. Palahniuk's creative view of Hell, which rivals that of Dante, might instill in readers a bit of sympathy for Madison, yet the recently dead teenage girl develops into a headstrong, outspoken resident of the underworld. This strong character along with fascinating, if not disturbing, imagery make Damned a read to die for.

William - Reference

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Impractically Designed

Graphic Design for Non-Designers:  Essential Knowledge, Tips, and Tricks Plus 20 Step-by-Step Projects for the Design Novice by
I've been looking for some practical graphic design tips for doing my own design work on the cheap, and thought this was bound to be the perfect little volume! Verdict? Just OK. The concepts were more abstract than practical, and Seddon veers towards saying that "there aren't really any rules, so just do what looks good." I got an earful about watching out for so-called "trapped white space," but didn't learn anything new about alignment, color, or any concrete aesthetic principles.

My hunch is that graphic design has got to be like any other creative pursuit: you have to learn the rules first, and then you learn how to break them. So, I guess I was just a little disappointed that Seddon didn't give me more rules to break.

Rachel - Programs

Monday, October 3, 2011

Periodically, you find a book with all the best elements

If you have ever wanted to get up close and personal with the 118 elements on the periodic table, then this book is for you. If you haven't, you should still take a look at this book because it has fantastic color photographs of all the elements accompanied by interesting facts about them. For instance, I had no idea that arsenic as an element has a beautiful silvery color; I have always thought about arsenic as something people used as poison in old movies. I also didn't know that although cobalt is a metal, it is also used in some glass products to give it a blue color.

Overall, this was a fun book to skim through and look at the striking images. The copy that the library holds is in the reference section, and can't be checked out, but if you are hanging out in the library and want something interesting to look at, you should give this book a try.

Jenny R - Reference